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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Off on a Saturday adventure

We are off to Brownville, NE today. Twice a year this little village hosts a flea market. There are vendors on each side of the main street, and some off on the side streets. If you have never been to Brownville this should be something on your "bucket list". It is a beautiful little village tucked into a valley beside the Missouri river. I don't know what the population is, except tiny. I discovered this fun get away about 10 - 12 years ago. Mom and I would go together, as well as another in Red Cloud KS. She loved the flea markets. Normally she didn't buy a lot, but she loved to talk to people we would meet along the way. It was so much fun to go with her, because she would bustle about talking to anyone who would listen. She loved to try food vendors .... often getting a plate of this or that, taking a few bites and declare herself full and throw away the rest. Sometimes she would come home with a wonderful treasure and could not wait to show it to her friends. She would always brag to them about spending the weekend with me, and how much fun she had.
I love going to the flea market with Phil and our friends Marsha and Randy, but I miss the times Mom and I would spend our weekends finding treasurers and building a wonderful memory bank for me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Our first honey harvest

I took a mental health day from work today. Most of the morning was quiet and uneventful (and great!!) I decided to harvest part of the honey. What an experience. The bees were not very happy, they followed me around all day, looking for their honey. They really got crazy when we started extracting from the frames.

This is the extractor. I have been looking for one since last year, but they are so darn expensive. This July I talked with a guy at a festival and he offered this one to me at a decent price, so a few weeks later we took a 2 hour drive to go pick it up. I am so glad we did, it sure makes harvesting a lot easier!

This is what the frame starts out like. This is capped honey. You can cut the top off, or scratch it so the honey flows out. Three frames go into the extractor, then the handle is cranked, and centrifugal force pulls the honey out of the comb.

The honey flows out of the extractor and collects in a bucket. We got almost 20 pounds honey today. I don't know if we have enough to sell, but we have enough to share a bit with family and friends. What a cool experience, I am glad we did this. I wish Mom were here, she would love to share

Happy Birthday Marci

34 years ago today I gave birth to my oldest daughter. How can that be???? How did I get so old? I remember the day very well. I was only 19 ....... way to young to be married and having a baby! I told my doctor my baby was coming today. He said No, I was a month or more from giving birth and he was going on vacation in just a few hours. He finally agreed to see me, so we drove 45 minutes to his office. He put me on the table to take a look, and broke my water! He was not a happy doctor ............ a few hours later baby Marci came (bottom first) into the world. My world changed forever ....... I never knew I could love someone the way I love my children. Happy birthday Marci. Happy love day to us both. I am so blessed to have given birth to two wonderful women. Both of you are wonderful mothers to my grandchildren. I love you both, and I love the grands so much ............... I can't even say.

Puppies puppies everywhere

I was at work yesterday when Phil called me and asked me to remind him why we decided to get puppies. I gently reminded him that they were going to protect us and chase away the deer and keep the garden safe. He was obviously frustrated so I asked what they had done (they are after all young puppies full of as my mom would say piss and vinegar). We have been trying to keep them off of the front porch, with absolutely NO luck. He came home from work yesterday to find they had torn apart the 2 chairs that live on the front porch. I thought he MUST be exaggerating. NOPE!! I came home and found that both chairs no longer had a front! The dogs were hiding in the barn, but came out when I got home for a treat. Between the puppies and kittens life is interesting! It is almost like having kids again. We decided to use a door as a gate to keep them off of the front porch for now (a door we are planning to use in the basement someday) ............... we have to build a gate so we don't look like the Beverly Hillbillys. The girls are so cute (puppies and kittens) but I wonder at our decision to bring them into our home ........... to much work!!!!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Canning Day

As the summer season winds down, I am compelled to preserve as much as I am able. I know that my time in the garden in very limited so I must save what I want now. I have picked all of the tomatoes, beans, sweet peppers, carrots, and zucchini. I will still have some zucchini and beans, but not much else. Last night I scrubbed the carrots and chopped the tomatoes. I put a roasting pan in the oven with tomatoes, garlic, onion, celery and carrots. It cooked very slowly all night and this morning I had a wonderful pasta sauce ready to can. I started the vegetable beef stew last night, and finished it this morning. It was a very productive day. I painted the front porch floor and canned 8 qt of pasta sauce, 27 pints of carrots, 22 pints and 17 quarts of vegetable beef soup.
Phil's friend came out and wired the barn so we finally have lights out back. I am so happy about that, because I have to hang the laundry in the dark many mornings! It will be wonderful to be able to see what I am doing! I look back and see so much progress .... we have worked so hard the last 2 years and I am finally starting to see some progress. This will be our 3rd winter out here. Every year I worry about loosing power, not being able to get to work because of ice/snow. Fortunately I have tons of PTO so I don't need to worry about it so much, but poor Phil doesn't have the luxury. I have been told this is going to be a bad winter. Keep your fingers crossed we don't loose power until we have a back up system figured out!

More soup

For the past 3 seasons (since we move out here) I have been concentrating on canning everything I get my hands on. Now that I have the basics covered, this year I am moving to soups. YUMMMM. I started out making a turkey soup with the leftover stock. Then a veggie soup with everything I picked that day. YUMMMM.
A couple of weeks ago I found chicken legs for 39 cents a pound. I combined everything from the garden that needed to be picked. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful soup.
Today I am making a beef/barley/veggie soup. I must admit this is one of my favorites. I canned one last week and it was so good I have to do it again. What a wonderful feeling it is to see the beautiful food I have preserved. It is so cool to realize i don't "have to" do this. We have the money to buy whatever food we need at the store. We do this because we want to. We have chosen to live out here, in the middle of no where. (I must admit, I didn't realize it was 20 - 30 minutes to a store until a week or so ago when I needed something I didn't plan on .........) We do have a wonderful life, but not everyone could handle it. We are blessed to be here. I know I could not have done this without Phil. He could not have done this without me. Today is our anniversary. Honestly it feels like we have been married for so much longer, so this date is arbitrary. I can't imagine a life without him ........... We are soul mates. I am only sorry that it took this long for us to get together.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Harvest time

Fall is coming so early this year. The tomatoes are dying back, the cucumbers are all but dead, the only thing still producing are the pole beans. I told Ruby and Olivia we needed to harvest the carrots last night. They were troopers and helped me get every one of them out of the ground! They were constantly distracted by worms, and bugs, but we did manage to harvest all of the carrots. We netted a bushel, after the greens were removed. We were not as fortunante with the beans and apples....... just never enough time in one day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Good Morning from Iowa

This morning I woke up, rushing around as usual tyring to get ready for work. I decided to get the puppies out of their kennel so they would settle down before I needed to leave. As we were coming out of the garage, toward the front door I noticed a large animal about 2 feet from me, at the side of my car. It was a GIANT raccoon. I screamed, the dogs barked and yipped, the raccoon sat there. Thankfully all the outside lights were on. I ran back into the house and hoped the monster would go away. I brushed my teeth, braided my hair and came back to the dining room window. It was sitting in the rocks at the front of the house looking at me. I kept coming back to look, it was still there! I got a big glass of water and leaned out and dumped it on him ........ he still didn't leave. It felt like the raccoon was stalking me! Finally I had to leave for work. Phil (safely at work since long before this happened) told me to make as much noise as I could and take the flashlight. I left all of the outside lights on, and dug out the old trumpet I have always intended to sell on eBay. I creeped out of the house with my purse, lunch bag, flashlight and trumpet. When I got to the edge of the front porch I started blowing on the trumpet. I blew, walked a couple of steps, blew again, used the flashlight to look under the car ...... and finally drove away.
Fast forward a few hours, Phil comes home from work. No raccoon up front. He feels confident the old guy has moved on, and has some brunch. A little later he takes Mabel out to potty and hang with the puppies and sees the raccoon again between the house and the barn. By this time the old guy is barely moving (yes the same one I was afraid of only a few hours earlier) and is obviously quite ill. I of course am afraid of rabies. We have the puppies to worry about, and even more, 3 of the grand kids will be out to spend the night! Thankfully Phil put his out of his misery. He was very upset about doing so .......... always the lover or animals and nature.
Lessons learned .......... there are many things to be frightened of, even on our own property. I am so thankful my husband was there to take care of my monster. I am fortunate to have him taking care of the difficult stuff in my life. Thanks Sweetie.